Pensions & Benefits
Stewart McKelvey’s pensions and employee benefits practice group includes some of the Firm’s most experienced practitioners in this highly specific area of law. Our work includes structuring and establishment of pension and benefit plans; group insurance arrangements; taxation; fiduciary responsibilities; deficit funding; benefit adjustments; surplus entitlement; the implications of planned acquisitions, mergers, reorganizations and spin-offs; and executive compensation arrangements, equity compensation, executive terminations, and deferred income arrangements.
In addition to our depth and breadth, our group draws upon the Firm’s cultivated resources and lawyers in practice areas including labour and employment, litigation, tax, insurance, securities, estates, trusts, insolvency, privacy and intellectual property, allowing tailored and flexible solutions specific to each client’s individual needs.
- Acting as general counsel for the investment managers of several large public sector pension plans.
- Acting in connection with the formation and launch of pooled investment funds.
- Advising on and/or negotiating pension investment agreements on behalf of public sector and utility pension plans, including investments in infrastructure and real estate.
- Acting on behalf of various counterparts in connection with issues relating to ISDA agreements and collateral arrangements.
- Acting on behalf of the owners of or lenders to various New Brunswick mining and natural gas projects.
Administration and Plan Sponsorship
- Advising on amendment, fiduciary duties, administration and governance of many of the largest pension plans in Atlantic Canada, including plans in the public service, retail, manufacturing, resource, health care, utility and education sectors. Work has included:
- Review of plan documents including plan text, governance framework, statement of investment policies and procedures, trust agreements and investment management agreements.
- Advising on issues including solvency funding, joint trusteeship, plan conversions, plan funding, governance, spousal benefits and division, wind-up and surplus entitlement.
Specific examples include:
- Advising on amendment of plan benefits including changing of benefit formula and reduction of benefits.
- Amendment of pension plans, retirement savings plans (e.g. LIFs and LIRAs) and related documents for compliance with new pension legislation and associated filings with pension regulators.
- Establishment of corporations in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador that assumed administrative responsibility for public sector pension plans and the transition of pension plan administration and investment arrangements to those corporations.
- Advising on pension and benefits matters in the purchase of a large retail business including amendment and merger of plans to integrate with existing plans.
- Advising on restructuring of trust arrangements including conversion to a master trust.
- Advising on pension, benefit and employment matters in mergers and acquisitions, including acquisitions of retail stores, technology and professional services companies and forest products manufacturers.
- Advising on consolidation of public sector pension plans (universities, municipalities and local authorities), including application of special legislation.
- Advising on consolidation and conversion of a pension plan for a Nova Scotia manufacturer including transaction specific regulation changes.
- Advising on the conversion of many defined benefit pension plans in private and public sector to shared risk or target benefit plans.
- Advising on the amendment of employee benefits including restructuring of benefits pooling, administrative services only (ASO) arrangements, flex plans, and post-retirement benefits.
- Reviewing and responding to claims regarding benefits plans, including retiree benefits.
Representation of, for example:
- The Province of New Brunswick in pension actions by retirees and unions, including Charter challenges, with respect to the implementation of the Public Service Shared Risk Plan.
- Numerous employers in an appeal from a human rights decision on whether coverage for medically authorized cannabis was a required employee benefit.
- A municipality pension plan in response to breach of fiduciary duty action.
- A school board in an arbitration on pension plan amendments (increase in employee contributions).
- A health care facility in an arbitration pertaining to a group RRSP on issues including breach of fiduciary duty.
- A private sector benefits plan sponsor in claims with respect to misrepresentation and bad faith in administration of disability benefit and group life insurance plans.
- A large Nova Scotia manufacturer in defending against a class action proceeding by pension plan members with respect to pension plan amendments, pension plan funding and legal costs.
Throughout the year, our pensions and benefits lawyers provide written insights and updates on recent case law and legislation in the region and beyond. To learn more about relevant topics, click on one of the following titles:
- Federal pension update: OSFI seeks input on proposed investment risk management guidance
- Amendments to come for more flexibility to correct contribution errors in defined contribution plans
- A legal lost and found: proposed rules for New Brunswick’s Unclaimed Property Act now published
- I have trust issues – pension plan trust claim priorities in bankruptcy in Anthony Capital Corporation (Re), 2021 NLSC 91
- Nova Scotia unveils changes to financial hardship unlocking – financial institutions to receive applications starting July 1, 2021
- New Brunswick regulator seeks input on revised proposed rule under Unclaimed Property Act
- Newfoundland and Labrador financial hardship unlocking available beginning today
- Saint John
- St. John's